Raucous annual events generate mixed legacy at Vassar

The College has, in its recent history, shut down campus-sponsored parties which they deemed as having acquired a significant party culture. When does a good time become a dangerous time? Photo By: Spencer Davis
The College has, in its recent history, shut down campus-sponsored parties which they deemed as having acquired a significant party culture. When does a good time become a dangerous time? Photo By: Spencer Davis
The College has, in its recent history, shut down campus-sponsored parties which they deemed
as having acquired a significant party culture. When does a good time become a dangerous time? Photo By: Spencer Davis

At 10 p.m., hundreds rushed into the College Center, pushing and screaming to get in. By 12 a.m., emergency rooms of three local hospitals bustled to the brim with Vassar students, driving the party to an end.

The year was 1999 , the last Vassar has seen of the Homo Hop, a legendary chaotic party hosted by Queer Coalition of Vassar College (QCVC), crashed by dozens from off campus, ranging from young kids to older grown-ups. Extreme drug experimentation and 32 EMS calls marked the end of the event (The Miscellany News, “From Steamboat to Villard, a History of parties at Vassar,” 11.4.10).

Over the past two decades, multiple campus-sponsored parties have exploded to rival the ranks of the Homo Hop, including the Shiva Rave; Jewett’s annual Seven Deadly Sins, a night of revelry left unfulfilled this past Saturday; and Halloweekend.

A heavy drinking culture pervades these events, and, coupled with massive crowds, culminates in hospitalizations and vandalism.

Assistant Dean of Campus Activities Teresa Quinn outlined the College’s policy regarding campus events that attract notoriety.

“Our collective responsibility is first and foremost to provide a safe environment for the campus community. Any event which results in hospital transports will certainly come under the radar of the administration and VSA for discussion concerning what went wrong, if the event should continue and how best to plan for the future to avoid such situations,” wrote Quinn.

The trouble, according to Quinn, begins before the event itself.

“Drug-health issues are always a major concern when students arrive at an event having consumed too much alcohol,” wrote Quinn.

She then took up the example of the Shiva Rave. “[The Shiva Rave] was not necessarily the problem; clearly the pre-gaming activity in anticipation of the Rave was the issue.”

Quinn said that student leaders with good intentions work hard to provide the campus with such diverse activities. She said, “It is the organizers who are most disappointed when an event is tainted by a few students whose inappropriate behavior overshadows the positive aspects of the activity [and bring] the event under scrutiny.”

EMT with Vassar EMS Joseph Tharakan ’17 agreed, saying, “I can’t really condone underage drinking but there are ways to safely enjoy it without an EMS call.”

He continued, “It’s important for everyone to realize that you don’t need to excessively drink in order to enjoy a night, because the best way to ruin a party is have someone go way above what they can handle.”

Meanwhile, reports of vandalism at Seven Deadly Sins surfaced in 2009 and 2012. In 2009, a student’s iPod was allegedly stolen and her friend’s speaker wires were cut (The Miscellany News, “News Briefs: Security Run In,”  2.26.10).

Jewett House President Tewa Kpulun ’15 was a student fellow on the Jewett House Team last year. She recalled the problems Seven Deadly party in 2012 encountered.

“One of the floors did get out of hand. People’s personal items were messed with and the bathroom on that floor was trashed. To respond to that, Jewett house teams have no longer invited that organization to host a floor again,” she said in an emailed statement.

According to Kpulun, last year’s Seven Deadly suffered no damages. “Jewett House team does a really great job ensuring that our home is returned to the way it was after a party.”

Another notorious college event were the Shiva Raves, dance parties crowded in the Shiva Theater. In 2010, due to a lack of crowd control among other drug related issues, the Rave was shut down by Safety & Security and the Arlington Fire Department (The Miscellany News, “Student vigilance aids Safety and Security.” 12/9/10).

Director of Health Education Renee Pabst told that an event only merits cancellation if it gets substantially out of hand.

“[Usually] if the College has seen that the event has posed a risk for students for health and safety, they will work with the group that hosted the event to address this,” wrote Pabst in an emailed statement. “Sometimes that may mean the event will not be able to occur again.”

Pabst added that canceling an event is a collective decision made by Campus Activities, the Dean of Students, D. B. Brown, and Dean of the College Chris Roellke.

At the same time, big events like Seven Deadly have tight security. Security, fire-watch personnel, food, water, people to check Vassar IDs and guest passes and an administrator are all required for an all-campus event to go on, according to Jewett and Lathrop House Advisor Kelly Grab.

“I haven’t really witnessed any catastrophes but I think, you know, if anything really happened, there would be plenty of people to back whoever it happened to up,” said President of Squirm Magazine Rachael Johnson ’15. Squirm had been slated to host the Lust floor of Seven Deadly before the blackout.

“These measures are not about the notoriety of any specific party, but merely ‘common sense’ safety measures,” said Grab in an emailed statement.

For what would have been this year’s Seven Deadly if not for the black-out, Johnson commented, “It’s one of the bigger parties of the year, but it’s also just another party. People are going to get EMS’d there and they’re going to get EMS’d at their own houses, probably, if they’re drinking, because it just happens all the time.”

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